Trouble Is Real by Johnathan Rice finds a romantic with a sultry baritone. He's boyishly charming with vibrant enthusiasm, but he's not just another singer/songwriter with an acoustic guitar, hungry to make a great first impression. This twentysomething is eager for a cinematic path to guide him through life's constant complexities. His vocal delivery is unforgettable, and vocalists such as Peter Gabriel, Nick Drake, and Ed Harcourt come to mind. Ignore the fact that all six of the songs found on 2004's Extended Player 24:26 EP are featured here. Listening to such EP standouts as "Mid November" and "My Mother's Son" once more won't hurt, thus making Trouble Is Real even heavier in sound and story. "Lady Memphis" is an old-timey foot-stomper with its sepia-toned array of organs and acoustic guitars. Other acoustic-driven tracks such as "Behind the Frontlines," "City on Fire," and "I Wouldn't Miss It for the World" showcase Rice's honest approach to songwriting, and it's quite enjoyable. Even more striking are the moments where he lets himself be a musician and a singer. "So Sweet" and "Salvation Day" thunder with so much feeling, the listener should want to grab for it. Trouble Is Real is a remarkable debut record, and those who fell for Pete Yorn's Musicforthemorningafter and adored the candidness found on Badly Drawn Boy's About a Boy won't be able to contain themselves.
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AllMusic Review by MacKenzie Wilson